New research published today reveals that almost half of public sector workers in the UK say they spend less time with their families than they did five years ago, compared to just a quarter of private sector employees.
The research, conducted by civil service and public sector membership club Boundless – formerly CSMA Club – paints a different picture of the nine to five working day that has sometimes been the perception of the public sector. In fact, on average public sector employees clock more overtime hours (3 hours 48 minutes) each week than those in the private sector (3 hours 12 minutes).
However, despite two in five public sector workers saying they have less time because of working longer hours, three in five admitted that they waste more time using digital devices and watching TV in their free time than ten years ago, suggesting that technology is getting in the way.
In fact, technology is having a real impact on family time together with a third of public sector workers admitting that time spent in front of the TV meant they weren’t spending quality time together. Four in ten wanted to ban their children from using social media altogether and more than a third (38 per cent) wished they could stop their children from playing game consoles.
This reliance on screens means it’s no surprise that over a quarter of families never play sport together and over 15 per cent say they never all go to the park. Almost a quarter say they never go on a family holiday abroad and nearly two out of ten never visit family attractions such as theme parks.
Analysing the public sector’s free time and how it’s spent, the study discovered that many take steps to save time on household chores, with over a third (37 per cent) now buying weekly groceries online and nearly one in ten employing a cleaner or laundry maid.
Public sector employees are also making shortcuts in the kitchen, admitting they eat convenience foods or ready meals three evenings a week, while treating themselves to a takeaway once a week. But instead of using the extra hours freed up to try new things, many are reverting to the usual habits of TV dinners and addiction to technology.
Results reveal that on average public sector workers spend a total of eight hours using screens each day outside of work. This includes over 2 hours and 30 minutes watching TV, 1 hour and 30 minutes browsing online, and just over 1 hour each on social media and sending personal emails or text messages.
When asked to estimate the amount of time wasted each day, the average public sector worker put the figure at exactly one hour – the same as in the private sector – while they placed the amount of free time they have available at 87 minutes, 15 minutes less than those in the private sector.
To stop the UK becoming a nation of couch potatoes who are glued to their screens, Boundless has teamed up with outdoor enthusiast and television personality Julia Bradbury to convince the nation to stop wasting priceless hours and make the most of their free time.
“People are busier than ever, juggling work and family life but it’s alarming to see that so many people feel they are wasting that precious spare time using digital devices and watching TV.
“This is having a real impact on their lives, the quality of their time as a family, and their overall levels of happiness and wellbeing. That’s why Boundless encourages members to make the most of their free time through activities and events. The website (www.boundless.co.uk) is a great place to search for inspiration and add some oomph to their lives.”
Carl Fillery, Chief Executive for Boundless, added:
“We found that almost half of public sector workers did less activities with their family than five years ago, citing cost and not knowing what activities are available as reasons for this.
“That’s why Boundless works closely with partners to curate a range of things to do that we know our 250,000 existing members, and those new to us, will enjoy, from days out and attractions right through to weekends away and family holidays to exciting destinations. We want them to break free of the cycle of digital domination and get out there and live life to the full.”
Other key findings from the research show that almost two thirds in the public sector admit they check social media or emails by force of habit, with 17 per cent admitting to doing so out of FOMO (fear of missing out). Ironically, the fear of missing out seems to be holding people back from doing activities, with almost a third (31 per cent) saying using social media so much leaves them feeling as though they have wasted their time, or tired (20 per cent) or irritated (12 per cent).
When people do spend time together, unsurprisingly it has a positive effect on their lives with almost three quarters (73 per cent) saying they feel happier for having done so, while almost a third feel more relaxed and a quarter feel more energised.
Boundless is a club for Civil Service and Public Sector workers who are looking to get the most out of their free time, by providing unique experiences, things to do and exclusive savings to members. Formerly CSMA Club, the organisation recently rebranded as Boundless as a part of a major brand repositioning. The organisation is also mutual so all the profits go straight back into the club to benefit members. For more information visit www.boundless.co.uk.